Herbert Hoover and his wife conversed in Chinese to foil eavesdroppers. Find out more about their time in China!
Herbert Hoover isn't just known for his big dam on the Colorado River and Great Depression shanty towns that were built in his name. Mr. And Mrs. Hoover were fairly fluent in Mandarin Chinese, giving them a great advantage over eavesdroppers.
Before his stint as a United States President, Herbert Hoover worked as chief engineer for the Chinese Bureau of Mines, which had him set up residence in China for two years. This is where the couple learned the new language that came in handy in the White House.
During their time in China, they witnessed the Boxer Rebellion in the summer of 1900. They were besieged for three weeks in the city of Tientsin.
Lou Henry, Hoover's wife, managed to pick up the language a little better than Herbert. She seemed to have an ear and understanding for other languages since she took up Latin as a hobby. In their free time for several years they translated famous sixteenth-century treatise on mining and metallurgy to English from Latin. Hardly a fun way to pass the time.